This was the first week of debates, and it was a blast! I was a bit nervous, since I was one of the first debaters, but everything went really well. The class had some great discussions, and there were very strong arguments presented from all sides.
Topic #1 – Technology in the classroom enhances learning
The first topic we debated was whether technology in the classroom enhances learning. Surely, it seems obvious that technology can increase student engagement and provide students learning opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. However, much of the debate focused on how distracting technology can be. I know that when I was in high school, I was very often distracted by my phone during class. Technology constantly being used by students for non-school related purposes was one of the biggest arguments for the disagree side of this debate. Obviously, if students are just using technology to check their Instagram or answer texts, then it is not enhancing their learning at all. The counter point to this was that, like any other tool, technology needs to be used effectively in order for the benefits to be seen. When technology is used effectively, it can positively impact student’s education in so many different ways. Overall, I have to agree that technology does enhance learning in the classroom. It’s not like students being distracted during class is anything new, as they found ways to be distracted before technology too. It is just up to the teacher to ensure they are utilizing technology in the most effective way possible to minimize distractions and maximize the benefits.
Topic #2 – Schools should stop teaching google-able facts & information
This was my debate topic, so I have to admit that I am pretty biased toward the agree side! The amount of time & effort most schools put into teaching students to memorize google-able facts and information is honestly ridiculous, especially considering how easily accessible information is today. Instead of memorizing a bunch of definitions and dates that they could just look up anytime, students would benefit much more from learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students would also benefit from learning less definitions and more emotional intelligence (EQ) skills, as EQ is the single most important factor in determining one’s success in the workforce. However, the other side of the debate argued that memorization is an important skill and that we would be doing students a disservice by not allowing them the opportunity to learn through the use of memorization. In addition, we cannot just stop teaching students dates when talking about events throughout history, as dates provide much needed context. At the end of the debate, I think the consensus was that although it would not make sense to stop teaching google-able facts and information completely, schools should stop placing so much focus on teaching these facts and instead shift their focus more towards other skills. I think we could all also agree that while it is okay to teach some google-able facts and information, assessment should not be focused on the regurgitation of memorized dates and facts that could just be found on google.